NEARLY 200 travelling Newport County AFC fans chanted ‘we are staying up’ after watching their side fight back from a goal down to claim a precious three points at Crewe Alexandra.

Caretaker manager Michael Flynn began his reign with a vital victory as a Dan Butler volley and an 88th-minute strike from new captain Joss Labadie completed the comeback.

It leaves the Exiles nine points from safety with a game in hand and 11 matches still to play – starting at Morecambe on Tuesday night.

Flynn made four changes for his first match in charge with David Pipe, Labadie, Sean Rigg and Tom Owen-Evans returning to the starting XI in place of Darren Jones, Mickey Demetriou, Mitch Rose and Marlon Jackson.

Labadie, making his first start since before Christmas, wore the captain’s armband as Flynn’s Exiles lined up in what looked like a 3-4-3 formation with Rigg and Alex Samuel supporting Ryan Bird up front.

But it was the hosts who enjoyed the majority of the chances early on as Jordan Bowery flicked one effort onto the roof of the net and then saw a second shot saved low to his left by Joe Day.

County’s main threat came from Bennett’s long throws and it was from one such missile that they were caught on the break and Crewe opened the scoring.

Alex Kiwomya found Ryan Wintle and he picked out Callum Cooke, who fired into the bottom corner of Day’s net to finish off a lightning quick counter-attack.

In response Owen-Evans dragged his shot wide from a dangerous free-kick but the visitors rarely threatened to get back into it before the break.

The half-time team talk seemed to do the trick, however, as County raced out of the blocks in the second half.

Pipe stabbed a shot goalwards that was cleared off the line by Oliver Turton and Labadie headed another golden chance just wide.

Mickey Demetriou replaced Rigg after the forward was involved in a clash of heads.

But, rather than disrupt the Exiles’ rhythm, they continued to grow in confidence and they were deservedly level when Butler placed a perfect volley into the bottom corner of Ben Garratt’s net on 53 minutes.

Sensing that a rare three points were there for the taking, Flynn’s men continued to attack and there were further chances for Samuel, Owen-Evans and Butler once again.

And just when it looked like they’d have to settle for a point, Labadie controlled Owen-Evans’ knockdown to coolly slot home and send the Amber Army into ecstasy.

This was a result and a performance that restored a little bit of belief and proved that the Exiles won’t be going down without a fight.

County: Day; Nelson, Bennett, O’Brien; Pipe (Barnum-Bobb, 71), Labadie, Owen-Evans, Butler; Samuel (Gordon, 85), Bird, Rigg (Demetriou, 51)

Subs not used: Bittner, Reid, Jackson, Williams

Referee: Mark Haywood

Attendance: 3,725 (198 County)

Argus star man: Labadie